Eggplant lovers, have I got a recipe for you! This is a quick and easy Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce that’s sweet and tangy. Plus, the eggplant pieces are so tender, they almost melt in your mouth. It’s a new favorite in my kitchen! Ready in 20 minutes from start to finish.
Chinese stir fries are the best. They are my go-to meals pretty much every time I want to cook something fast and easy.
The secret to making good stir fries is in the sauce – you have to add just the right amount to end up with a perfectly seasoned stir fry.
It’s not hard at all, you just need to use your wok regularly to go from beginner to expert in a flash. I’m at the point now where I can make a yummy stir fry with my eyes closed!
Take this Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce as an example – I’ve ordered this dish a couple of times and sadly both times the eggplant came undercooked sitting in a puddle of oil.
This left me with no other choice but to come up with my own homemade Asian eggplant recipe. A delicious Chinese eggplant recipe that’s easy to make and way better than any takeout version I’ve had!
What is Chinese Eggplant?
Unlike the big, bulbous American eggplant you are used to seeing in grocery stores, a Chinese eggplant is much smaller and longer.
Its skin is thinner and the flavor is also milder because it contains a lot less seeds (which cause eggplant to taste bitter) than the American type.
If you are wondering whether a Chinese eggplant is the same thing as a Japanese eggplant or an Asian eggplant, the answer is yes!
And if you happen to be searching for eggplant in Great Britain or Canada, look for the word aubergine, which is French for eggplant, as it may be called that.
Shopping for eggplant in South Asia or South Africa? Then look for the word brinjal.
How To Cook Chinese Eggplant
Cooking with Chinese eggplant is very easy!
There aren’t any specific techniques on how to cook Chinese eggplant – you can fry them in a pan with some oil, steam them or roast them in the oven.
The only thing to watch for is the texture – always make sure that your eggplant is cooked through before serving it. A semi raw piece of eggplant is about the worst thing you can serve on a plate!
For this recipe, we are going to stir fry the eggplant. The texture we are looking for is tender and pillowy that almost melt in your mouth. Yum!
Chinese Garlic Sauce
To make this Chinese garlic sauce you will need:
- Soy sauce: Regular Japanese soy sauce is my favorite type of soy sauce because it has more complex flavors than other types of soy sauces. I use Yamasa.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar to impart a little sweetness to the sauce (light brown sugar also works).
- Chinkiang vinegar: Also called black vinegar, this pantry staple is a must if you cook a lot of Chinese food. Chinkiang vinegar is quite fruity, similar to balsamic, but less sweet and a little malty.
- Shaoxing wine: Shaoxing wine is another ingredient often used in Chinese cuisine. It’s similar to dry sherry – which is why I recommend using dry sherry as an alternative – and has notes of caramel and vinegar. It’s quite complex in flavor, difficult to describe!
- Sesame oil: A touch of sesame oil to bring the flavors together and add nuttiness to the sauce.
Chinese garlic sauce has an iconic flavor profile that can be found in many Chinese dishes. It’s sour, salty, nutty, and a little sweet. The sauce is added at the end of the cooking process so as not to mess with the delicate texture of the eggplant. Adding it too soon could result in a soggy eggplant bites, something we all prefer to avoid!
How to Make Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
- Making the sauce. Whisk the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and leave it on the side.
- Chop and stir fry the eggplant. Stir fry the eggplant with a little oil for a few minutes over medium heat, until they are tender. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl.
- Cook the garlic, ginger, and chilis. Use the same pan and after cooking them for a minute, return the eggplant to the pan.
- Add sauce and scallions. Stir fry for a quick minute and drizzle a little sesame oil.
- Serve with warm rice. Brown or white rice. Enjoy!
The best part about this eggplant stir fry recipe beside the amazing taste? It only takes 20 minutes to make!
I love it when this much depth of flavor can be developed without the need to simmer for hours. It makes cooking fun, easy and keeps the kitchen cool on hot and humid days.
For those not big on eggplant, try using zucchini or thinly sliced potatoes (preferably chopped into thin sticks). Potatoes are often used in Szechuan cuisine despite the fact that we don’t see them very often on menus here in the US. They are a staple ingredient for the simple reason that they are cheap and take on pretty much any flavor you add to them.
Potatoes and chili crisp? Yes please. French fries with melted butter and soy sauce? Oh yessss….
Another great thing about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time. You can make it the day before and have it for dinner the next day, or even the day after. It keeps well refrigerated (for no more than 2 to 3 days).
Have I convinced you to make this Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce? I hope so. Trust me, this dish is so yummy you will add it to your dinner rotation!
What to Serve with Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
Aside from a warm bowl of rice, there are plenty of other Chinese classics you can serve with this dish. Since this is a vegetable dish, you can pair it with chicken, tofu, and other protein-based dish such as:
Did you like this Chinese Eggplant With Garlic Sauce Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
This is a tender Chinese eggplant stir fry dressed in a spicy garlic sauce. Ready in 20 minutes from start to finish.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 2 people 1x
- Category: Stir Fry
- Method: Pan Frying
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 2–3 long Japanese or Chinese eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise and chopped
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
- 2–3 Chinese dried red chilis, chopped
- 4 scallions, finely chopped on the bias
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon chinkiang vinegar
- 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce into a bowl and set aside.
- In a large pan over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and eggplant. Stir fry for a few minutes (about 5 minutes) until the sides are golden brown and the center is tender.
- Transfer eggplant to a plate and add remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the pan. Add garlic, ginger, red chilis and cook for 1 minute.
- Add eggplant and scallions, toss and pour the sauce. Stir fry for 1 minute, until all the vegetables are coated.
- Turn the heat off and serve with white or brown rice.
Leftovers: Store the leftovers in an airtight storage container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Serving Size: 2
- Calories: 194
- Sugar: 6.2g
- Sodium: 883.8mg
- Fat: 16.5g
- Saturated Fat: 1.4g
- Unsaturated Fat: 5g
- Carbohydrates: 10.1g
- Fiber: 1.7g
- Protein: 2.2g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: Recipe, Chinese, vegetarian, vegan, stir fry